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Life Extension Suggestions

Optimizing DHEA Blood Levels

Because of the overwhelming evidence connecting low levels of DHEA to the degenerative diseases of aging, Life Extension suggests that most people over age 40 begin DHEA therapy. For most individuals, the starting dose of DHEA is between 15–75 mg, taken in one daily dose. Many studies have used a daily dose of 50 mg (Stangl 2011; Morales 1994; Brooke 2006; von Mühlen 2008; Weiss 2009; Weiss 2011; Talaei 2010; Dhatariya 2005; Brignardello 2007; Roxas 2007; Kenny 2010; Reiter 1999).

Ideally, DHEA replacement therapy should begin with blood testing to establish a base range. Since almost everyone over age 40 has lower-than-optimal levels of DHEA, most people begin supplementation and test their blood DHEA-S levels later to make sure they are taking the proper dose (Hinson 1999).

After 3–6 weeks of supplementation, a DHEA-S test is recommended. Individuals react differently to DHEA replacement therapy, so it is a good idea to closely monitor your blood levels and note any side effects.

Standard and Optimal DHEA-S Blood Levels

Blood Test Standard Reference Range (20-24 yo) (Labcorp 2013) Optimal Levels
DHEA-S Men: 211–492 µg/dL Men: 350–490 µg/dL
Women: 148–407 µg/dL Women 275–400 µg/dL

As DHEA can be converted in the body to testosterone and estrogen, individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers (such as breast, uterine, or prostate cancer) should not take DHEA. Some side effects that have been reported with DHEA include liver problems, masculinization (in women), breast enlargement (in men), hair loss, aggression, acne, and insomnia; although these are relatively uncommon (UMMC 2013; Mayo Clinic 2012). Since DHEA supplementation can influence levels of other hormones, individuals on a DHEA regimen should regularly monitor their hormone levels via blood testing. More information about comprehensive hormone balance and using blood testing to monitor hormone levels is available in the Male Hormone Restoration and Female Hormone Restoration protocols.